GUEST BLOG: Tina Ngata – Je Ne Suis Pas Metiria

By   /   August 13, 2017  /   29 Comments

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Greens have strategists alright. Crap ones. Ones that develop a hashtag campaign which completely individualised Metiria at the same time as they were trying to say this was not about her. If it’s not about Metiria then where were the “I stand with beneficiaries” green/pink profile pics?

I’ve been poor, a beneficiary, even been homeless. I’m a Māori mum – but I’m not going to say #IamMetiria.

I have a few friends who, like me, have a hard time saying no to social justice causes. We are usually overburdened, overcommitted, and reliant upon good support systems. The best support systems are the ones who will say “no” for us. They watch us and monitor our energy levels, they know what the whanau unit needs, they know when we have been absent for too long and will simply step in and tell us, or the people enquiring: “No”. They’re kinda like commitment police. At times when we may be losing ourselves, heartbroken, for a cause, and ready to launch into it – these voices of reason will come in and tell us, frankly, that the risk is simply not worth it. We’re astute, yes, and with time we get better at it  – but sometimes that heart breaks, and there you go, ready to sign away hours a week that could be spent with your whānau

Most especially, when the request holds a hint of threat for the whanau – these are the ones that will certainly step in and simply say: “No”.. When this happens, your police officer comes in. They’ll ground you in the reality of where your primary duty lies, and remind of you of exactly what rights you have, or don’t have.

Watching the recent events with the Green Party, one of the resounding persistent questions I have held is – where was THAT person for Metiria?

I mean – how difficult would it have been to deduce the outcome? Media watchdog Kupu Taea have been officially reporting since 2003 on how racist the NZ media is – and even highlights how sexist it is in its racism as well. We’re talking about the same media that ignores non-Māori child abuse, and holds a consistent theme of Māori as lazy, privileged, promiscuous, radical, violent, bludging, unreliable, hypersensitive, brutal, primitive, child murderers who can’t manage money to save ourselves.

We’re talking about the same government (both National and Labour) that has carried out a conscious policy and legislative assault on Māori in the face of clear evidence of its contributions to high Māori mortality. We’re talking about a genocidally racist government. A government that steals Māori children from homes and tears apart Māori whānau. A government that steals our land and poisons our rivers. A government that ignores whānau sleeping in cars. A government that continues to negatively profile young Māori men and young Māori mothers and deny them effective support even when armed with the knowledge that suicide is a leading cause of death for both groups.

Notice the strong language I’m using here? Genocide, child theft, suicide, murderers. This is the reality of who you were dealing with, Metiria. Human rights abusers. Yeah – it will be intensely vicious. They’ll crucify you over a jacket. They’re morally bankrupt, pathologically sick power-mongers. No, they know no bounds. And once you go down this path, there is no way to protect yourself, or those you implicate, from them. Even your whānau.

So where was that person to remind Metiria of this? The person that assessed the very predictable outcomes and sat Metiria down and pointed out to her that this was not just her story, but the story of her child, the story of her partner, the story of her mother and others that she placed, unbidden, before the racist, sexist, classist NZ media? Where is the person who grilled Metiria for what her responses would be, and how she would handle the inevitable intrusions into her life and those who she exposed in this way? Where were the ones that said that this risk would be taken AND the primary message would also be lost in the sensationalist feeding frenzy?

And while we’re at it – after 16 years of dealing with this government and media, how did Metiria fail to foresee this herself?

It’s a little confusing, really, to listen to the Green response to this line of questioning. On one hand, they insist the strategy was weighed this up (although they’re careful not to use the word strategy themselves – more on that in a moment) and decided it was a big risk, but one worth taking. There are no regrets because “now a national discussion on poverty is taking place”. At the same time, Metiria has clearly and readily admitted that the intensity of the attacks upon her and her family was too much for her to handle, and the personal focus on her drowned out any focus on poverty, climate change, and waterways.

Yeah, no shit.

You cannot have it both ways – Metiria, you cannot say you understood the risks going into it, but are now leaving because it has become too much. You can’t say you have no regrets, even as you walk away from the strongest position you could have been in to make the change you wanted. You have to, at least, admit that the risks were grossly miscalculated.

Any less than that is much worse.

It means you knew you were going to destabilise the party, and decided it was worth it.

It means you knew that the chance to take immediate ACTION on poverty was diminished, and decided it was worth it.

It means you knew you were going to place yourself as the champion of the underclass, and then quit on them, and decided it was worth it.

It means you knew that implicating your family would open them to scrutiny, and decided it was worth it.

It means you knew that the desperately needed policies on water health and climate change would be pushed further away, and decided it was worth it.

Let’s just say you miscalculated, aye.

You and the peeps around you who SHOULD have been holding those very available, predictable projections up to your face. If you were alone in this, you shouldn’t have been. Yes I’m including you in this, James Shaw.

Problem is, Greens are up against the wall now. Only way is up, and they’re not going to head in that direction by admitting “clumsy” and “poorly thought out” to their media discourse can they. Nothing for it but to sing of noble fallen queens and call for her to be avenged. Speak not of the word “strategy” for it can only be called “honesty” (unbidden, unnecessary honesty). Don’t breathe the word “tactic”, only “courage”. The irony is – we’re not even allowed to be honest about the fact that it was a tactical decision to draw attention to Green policy on poverty. If there was no electoral strategy to it – the confession might as well have happened at any time (like after your party is in power).

Greens have strategists alright. Crap ones. Ones that develop a hashtag campaign which completely individualised Metiria at the same time as they were trying to say this was not about her. If it’s not about Metiria then where were the “I stand with beneficiaries” green/pink profile pics? Yo, Green team: Māori and Pacific Islanders are communal peeps – we don’t individualise and this isn’t Charlie Hebdo. You can’t just transplant a trendy (and notoriously white) hashtag campaign and expect it to work magic. It just spotlighted Metiria as the saviour queen and that’s who our people focussed on – not Greens, Metiria. Now she’s quit and there goes the one leader they’d dared to pin their hopes on. Now many haven’t a clue who to vote for, were made centrepiece in a political shitstorm that wound up with just another boring election choice, and may well return to not voting.

There’s a nasty, vicious undercurrent to the management of this campaign that, if I’m being honest, smells to me like well-intentioned corporate white liberalism. A campaign manager that took unnecessarily petty swipes at Graham and Clendon after they left. Tone-policing. The steadfast refusal to take responsibility for the choices made. Romanticism. A saviour model. Individualism. Importing a white hashtag campaign that was torn apart in PoC communities for lacking racial nuance. The white-knuckled grip on the intentions while ignoring the impacts. Missing the historically consistent racism of the NZ whitestream media and government. Doesn’t sound to me like an advisor that’s lived an Indigenous reality. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that the campaign team is predominantly white.

White-stream media and the establishment cannot escape blame in all of this – let’s be clear, they are who we are facing on the battleground. But you can’t just let your leaders march out into the field in a white dress just to show how fast she’ll get shot. Metiria deserved better than that. NZ climate justice deserved better than that. Our waterways deserved better than that. We all deserved better than that. Someone needed to be there reminding her of the very severe consequences of her choice for herself, and those implicated and impacted.

And in reflection of that – while we need many of the Green’s policies – I cannot endorse a party OR person that will, knowingly or not, place vulnerable people at risk, however well-intentioned they are.  I hope Greens have an honest self-appraisal of this at some point soon, because in my observation, that’s yet to happen.

 

Tina Ngata (Ngati Porou) works for indigenous university Te Wananga o Aotearoa as a diploma and degree-level educator in indigenous environmental leadership. She lives in Te Tairawhiti and blogs underneath the name “The Non-Plastic Maori” about issues relating to indigenous rights and environmental issues.

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29 Comments

  1. bert says:

    I could be wrong but from my understanding the Greens had not a lot of choice. An insider leaked information to David Seymour about Meteria’s past( I can surmise it to be someone from a very powerful persuasion at the highest level, possibly an ex Winz head). Enough information, to continually leak until Meteria’s demise. The fact that Seymour pressed this, confirms just what a little creep the man is( dirty politics).

    The only other strategy, would be to do exactly what another particular politician has done and stay quiet, or for Meteria to state that she didn’t “deliberately” set about to mislead Winz.

    Clearly, given that records can be exhumed from Winz, I wonder whether a call to former head Christine Rankin to expose others is necessary, but then again, one would have to admit guilt.

    It is a sad day when an honest politician looses their job, yet the ones in power are the most distrusting.

    • Francesca says:

      But if that was true, I would have expected Seymour to come out with it any way, as a way to inflict damage and destroy the narrative that Metiria had the best of intentions in telling her story.

      • bert says:

        Francesca. Take a look at the second to last paragraph where Seymour said he fed the story to the media.

        ACT Leader David Seymour responds to the resignation of Metiria Turei:

        “The resignation of Metiria Turei is a major victory for taxpayers, for honest beneficiaries, and for decency in politics,” says Mr Seymour.

        “Metiria Turei has finally done the right thing by the public and her party, but also her family who are now spared the intense scrutiny they would have faced as media investigated the undeclared support she received while on a benefit.

        “ACT’s focus on this issue has been completely vindicated. Metiria would not have resigned if there was no truth to the reports fed to me – reports that I prompted media to challenge her on.

        “This means we can now move on to a campaign that focuses on policy, not personality.”

        • Francesca says:

          ok
          so you’re saying Seymour sat on it till he could be guaranteed the coup de grace?that would finish Metiria off?
          I get it
          I’m just so disappointed in New Zealanders with this absolute orgy of hate.
          I thought we were better than this.
          I well remember the Listener’s lurch to the right back in the 90’s, with Lindsay Perigo leading the charge against beneficiaries. Even some of my good friends were persuaded

          • bert says:

            Sorry Garabaldi, who is “she”?

          • bert says:

            I agree Francesca. It is now “dirty, filthy politics” and it is a sad day that one man parties can keep a government afloat.

            Although Seymour just may get his in Epsom, one can only hope.

        • garibaldi says:

          Bert you had better have good evidence if she is implicated/involved!

  2. Richard Christie says:

    That’s OK Tina, I don’t think the party will miss having your endorsement.

  3. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Boy o boy!

    With support like that who needs enemies?

    Are you sure you’re on the right blog Tina?

  4. esoteric pineapples says:

    Is there no end to the variety of angles people find to attack the Greens over this? Why do all of those who are not Green supporters want to see the Green’s extinguished like no other political party?

  5. Nicke says:

    But wait, there’s less!
    The standard confabulated littany of injustice may be a cri de coeur, but it provokes frustrated defensiveness rather than motivated change.

    You can accuse the Greens of naive mismanagement, perhaps, but if this story was going to break, they may have made the best of the situation by trying to front foot it.

    Metiria, ultimately lost out, but the issue is still on the table, and will get on-going coverage.

    It was untenable, and undesirable for the Greens to self immolate on the issue.

    Not fair? No it wasn’t. When was politics ever fair?

    The art of the possible will always have victims as well as winners.

    Right now there is an election to win, and the suggestion that somehow much of the population are irredemably motivated by racist, reactionary instincts is not exactly helpful.

    If you are not putting your energy behind change, you might have the grace to get out of the way.

  6. XRAY says:

    This is the first non corporate media thing I have read that is honest if not uncomfortable analysis.

    And in reference to Bert above, I have wondered throughoout if she was not a victim too of National/ACT’s Dirty Politics blackmail and if so this “rat fucking” that these arseholes so love to indulge in needs to be outed once and for all.

  7. The Chairman says:

    “Metiria, you cannot say you understood the risks going into it, but are now leaving because it has become too much.”

    Unfortunately, she did. When the heat was turned up, she bailed. Disappointing and angering many.

    • In Vino says:

      Once again, The Chairman does his utmost to cast misery upon the Left. Do not believe him when he pretends to be one of us.

      • The Chairman says:

        Rubbish. I support the cause. It was Metiria who found it too hard and opted to no longer front it.

  8. LizzieC says:

    Thankyou Tina, it is great to get refreshing slicing into the pile of shit and get people thinking. I think you have really nailed it in your article. I am surprised at the limp responses from certain regular bloggers. They seem to be suffering from some sort of fundamentalism blindness. As I believe, we have to edit ourselves hard, and ask the investigative why, why why and not be afraid to face the painful facts that are revealed when we dig around. Ngā mihi nui ki a koe.

  9. David Stone says:

    To a large degree exposing family friends and privacy to the savages of the media is what everyone takes on when they enter the political arena. You have to wear it if your going to stick your neck out and try to fight a cause that disrupts the establishment. Probably the impact on family should be part of deciding on that corse before embarking. Once in mid passage she should have stayed the corse. Her family should be proud of her, not critical.
    D J S

  10. Michal says:

    Woah heavy stuff. I am sure one thing no one foresaw because other than Metiria know one knew in the party that she had voted in another electorate and I think when that came out and Graham and Clendon pulled out that is when the shit hit the fan. And the Ardern thing all happened at the same time so I am not surprised at the drop in the polls but one thing I am sure of they will get back up to 10%.

    I don’t think anyone could have predicted the reaction from the MSM over $3000!

  11. WILD KATIPO says:

    I can understand what Tina is saying, its fair comment in my opinion. And there should have been someone watching Metiria’s back. We are in a war zone in New Zealand , we are at war with the neo liberals, their media , and their manipulating the NZ public with their ideology.

    They have their embedded ‘ journalists / propagandists,…

    They are well organized. And they are ruthless.

    One only has to look back in recent history to observe the viciousness of Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley and their Mont Pelerin Society backers to see that.

    These are the ilk with which we are dealing with.

    Psychopaths.

    The only consolation is that I believe it will be a Labour led coalition govt after September. But what of Metiria?… I believe she was courageous enough to challenge the 33 year old neo liberal narrative.

    Despite the fall out directed at her , her family, and the Greens. Yes , she should have received better briefings and counsel / intel like any Field General does. But alas she didn’t appear to have , … yet that does not diminish the potency of the message Metiria delivered , she has put the message out there and it will continue to be an Albatross around the neck of National , and moreover,… the neo liberal narrative in their inhumane treatment of the poorer members of society.

    Yet she and the Greens paid a heavy price for speaking the truth.

    When Andrew Little was being harangued by the far right wing embedded propagandists/ media….I stated that I would vote for Labour to help shore up that party base. I have since seen Labour and the ‘Jacinda effect’ which has given a Labour led coalition more than just a chance at forming the next govt after September. Therefore I will adjust my vote accordingly / party vote Greens. First time ever.

    And that was based purely on the stand Metiria took , the Greens social policy’s and concerns, – and most definitely as a protest vote against the Dirty Politics’s tactics that has crept into NZ , and against the 33 year long plunder and degradation of NZ society under the neo liberal ideology.

    Despite any perceived failures on the part of the Greens or even of Metiria herself.

    • J S Bark J S Bark says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Exactly why I’m doing that too.

      I reject neo-liberalism and all who endorse it.

  12. […] not saying the management behind the Greens strategy wasn’t poorly gamed out, but the courage Metiria showed deserved far more than what du Plessis-Alan and her ilk meted […]

  13. […] ever brilliant Tina Ngata and ever insightful Mike Treen have already canvassed the criticisms of the Green Party strategists […]

  14. The Masked Moa says:

    Tena Koe Tina. Finally someone dares to say that the Green Emperors and the caucus and their back room team have no clothes on and stuffed up badly. The policy could have (can) stand on its own merits without it being personalised. Having just spent sometime in Scandinavia when this story broke it highlighted not just how racist and sexist NZ is in comparison but even worse how anti-family and anti-children NZ society has become. This type of welfare policy is the mainstream policy in Scandinavia which all the major parties subscribe to because they prioritise people, families and children first. I despair at what this country has become. We protested against apartheid South Africa in the 70’s/80’s but have become a fully fledged socio-economic apartheid state ourselves but think its OK because a few white people suffer as well. Until NZ society starts to equally value every individual/whanau/tamariki as worthy of a healthy life I fear things will only get worse. Nga mihi nui ki a koe.

  15. Archonblatter says:

    Clear and refreshingly tough language. “There’s a nasty, vicious undercurrent to the management of this campaign that, if I’m being honest, smells to me like well-intentioned corporate white liberalism.”

    This quote from an article on Counterpunch by Bob Uri endorses all you say.

    ‘In the mid-1980s Klan leader, White nationalist and one-term Representative from Louisiana David Duke traded in his KKK garb for a business suit and a corporate haircut in order to merge his version of White nationalism with then resurgent capitalism. Neoliberalism links a malleable conception of freedom as what those with social power want to circular social apologetics. And the capitalist / Thatcherite assertion that the individual is the fundamental social unit revivifies White nationalism by erasing history.

    Another way of putting this is that neoliberalism has long been a subtext of White nationalism.’

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/08/11/the-clintons-trump-and-white-backlash

  16. roy cartland says:

    It’s not over yet. The Greens have had more coverage in the last couple of weeks than ever. Yes it’s been shitty, but shitty coverage worked as much for JK as against him.

    And now, to me at least, there seems to be a tiny crack of sunlight behind the hate cloud. Gower has had his mea culpa, and he’s let James Shaw speak at length about POLICIES (who’d have thought). Pencilsword has picked up on it.

    I feel like actual GP issues are being aired and taken more seriously now – I know it’s rose-tinted to think that the MSM may be feeling a little guilty about their unfairness, but something’s afoot.

  17. The Weatherman says:

    Don’t despair. The pinnaple party over the ditch’s knees are shaking and the pinnapple-and-spaghetti-on-pizza party is done for.

    Mission accomplished, bae.

  18. Siobhan says:

    “Greens have strategists alright. Crap ones. Ones that develop a hashtag campaign which completely individualised Metiria at the same time as they were trying to say this was not about her.”

    Are you allowed to say “Hell Yeah”on TDB…’cos if you are “Hell Yeah”…this sums up my thoughts exactly.

    Sure the MSM wouldn’t have a bar of it…but as Corbyn has shown, you don’t actually need the MSM on board to get your message out there, as long as you hold your ground and deliver the right, well articulated, focused message to The People. In this case, not just beneficiaries, but people who give a damn about anyone other than there own selves.